Jack is an extremely affectionate kid who loves stuffed animals, books and hugs with his little bro, Aiden. He was diagnosed with autism at age two but his mother realized it much earlier. We were as prepared as we could have been to receive the diagnosis. My wife was actually relieved because the diagnosis allowed us to pursue the treatments she had already been researching.
Jack attended junior kindergarten at the Kidsability school in Waterloo while having IBI therapy, later ABA, in the morning and on Saturdays. He seemed to enjoy school though playing with other kids was not of much interest to him. Since he was a baby he had not really had much interest in other people. What helped change this was the intensive therapy that he had been involved in since he was three years old.
Jack's therapists are absolutely experts at what they do. They taught him to speak one and two word phrases, to point, to put on his shoes, and how to use the toilet (a skill that he still has not fully mastered). Without this therapy I don't believe we, his family, could have ever helped him to learn these things.
Jack transitioned this past fall to senior kindergarten at our local public school. He goes twice a week but has never been able to stay for a full day. He gets worn out and irritated by the business and structured routines of the classroom. He is not able to learn in that environment nor is he capable of effectively communicating or bonding with his classmates.
Since the fall of 2018 Jack has attended government funded ABA therapy from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., three days a week. In February his mother and I decided that there was no point in sending him to school. We wrestled with this for a long time but finally came to the realization that Jack needs full time therapy and constant supervision. As he gets older he seems to be getting more frustrated and aggressive.
We know longer feel that is safe for him to be looked after by his grandmother because he will likely hurt her physically at some point. We don't feel safe sending him to school because there are too many opportunities for him to wander off and get lost. He has been physically aggressive with his classmates as well. The only time that we are not worried about Jack's safety is when he is in therapy with his ABA therapists. They intuitively understand things about him and are successfully teaching him how to verbally express himself.
Within a week of deciding to pull him from school and apply for the government funding for full time therapy, the changes to the autism funding were announced. If they go through as planned Jack will only be eligible for three and a half hours of therapy per week. We will be forced to keep him in school where he is unable to learn or be safely attended to. We cannot financially afford to get him the therapy he needs to help give him the chance to function in the world and to go to the bathroom when he needs to.
I want the representatives of our government to know that these changes will absolutely, without a doubt, RUIN JACK'S LIFE and the rest of our family as well. For Jack, full time ABA therapy is his only chance to learn and to develop the skills needed to have any kind of independence in his life. How can you possibly justify taking that away?